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Chapter 6 Assignments

You’ll need to find some willing subjects (though even not so willing subjects can work, too) to help you with these assignments. The goal here is to experiment with depth of field, quality of light, metering modes, and picture controls.

Experimenting with depth of field in portraits

Let’s start with something simple: Grab your favorite person and start playing with different aperture settings. Shoot wide open (the widest your lens goes, such as f/3.5 or f/5.6) and then really stopped down (like f/22). Look at the difference in the depth of field and how it plays an important role in placing the attention on your subject. (Make sure you don’t have your subject standing against the background. Give some distance so there is a good blurring effect of the background at the wide f-stop setting.)

Discovering the qualities of natural light

Pick a nice sunny day and try shooting some portraits in the midday sun. If your subject is willing, have him turn so the sun is in his face. If he is still speaking to you after being blinded, have him turn his back to the sun. Try this with and without the fill flash so you can see the difference. Finally, move him into a completely shaded spot and take a few more shots.

Picking the right metering method

Find a very dark or light background and place your subject in front of it. Now take a couple of shots, giving a lot of space around her for the background to show. Switch metering modes and use the AE Lock feature to get a more accurate reading of your subject. Notice the differences in exposure between the metering methods.

Using picture controls for portraits

Have some fun playing with the different picture controls. Try the Portrait control as compared to the Standard (SD) control. Then try out Monochrome and play with the different color filter options to see how they affect skin tones.

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